Your Ultimate Guide to Stratford-Upon-Avon in One Day

How to make the most of Stratford-Upon-Avon in One Day

Nestled in the gentle Warwickshire countryside, Stratford-upon-Avon is a delightful medieval market town with over 800 years of history. But of course, this place is most famous for being the birthplace of the legendary William Shakespeare.

There’s something truly magical about wandering the charming streets and lush
riverside gardens where the famous Bard once walked. Though Shakespeare left his
hometown as a young man to find fame in London, this is where his story began.

Follow this suggested 1 day itinerary to experience the best of Shakespeare’s beloved hometown without missing out on the highlights. We’ll visit his family homes, beautiful old churches, the riverfront where he surely wandered, and other spots where Will’s presence can still be felt.

Of course, we’ ll also squeeze in time for tea and scones, browsing the shops, and
catching a Shakespearean play or show. So let’ s dive in to making the most of your day
in Stratford-upon-Avon!

Morning

Shakespeare’s Birthplace

We’ll start our day at the house where the Bard of Avon was born in 1564.

Shakespeare’s Birthplace is a marvelously preserved 16th-century half-timbered building where young Will grew up, dreaming of becoming a poet and playwright. Walking through these creaky floors and narrow corridors, you can vividly imagine Will as a boy hurrying down the uneven stairs, driving his mother mad as he scribbled verses on scraps of paper!

The house contains various artifacts from Shakespeare’s childhood like his father’s glovemaking tools, giving us glimpses into daily life back then.

After touring his humble birthplace, we’ ll wander through the tranquil garden to see a descendant of the magical mulberry tree that Shakespeare himself planted.

Holy Trinity Church

Next, head over to Holy Trinity Church on Old Town Street. This lovely parish church is where Shakespeare was baptised and buried. His grave is located inside on the north wall, and there are several other 15th and 16th century memorials and funerary monuments to admire.

Make time to also wander through the charming churchyard outside, it’s a tranquil spot with old lime trees and even a vote of thanks to Shakespeare carved into a stone window.

Bancroft Gardens

Take a scenic stroll through Bancroft Gardens, which offers a nice glimpse into Stratford’s heritage. These tranquil gardens are located on the site of the former vegetable patch of the Bancroft family, who were prominent town officials in Shakespeare’s time.

The gardens feature wide lawns, flowerbeds and stone fountains. Have a seat on one of the benches under the shade of a tree and imagine Will himself finding inspiration for his writing in this peaceful natural spot. Look for the sundial that’s inscribed with a quote from Shakespeare’s comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Take a Riverside Stroll

After visiting those history-filled sites, stretch your legs with a leisurely stroll along the river. This is one of the best free things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon. Walk north up Bridgefoot from the town centre, crossing over Clopton Bridge which offers idyllic views of the River Avon.

Follow the footpaths through the grassy parklands lining the riverbanks, known as The Recreation Ground. It’s a delightfully serene setting, with weeping willows trailing into the water and boats slowly drifting by.

If you have time, you can rent a rowboat and see Stratford-upon-Avon from the river. The postcard-perfect Tudor buildings and dreamy river setting makes visiting Stratford-upon-Avon one of the top things to do in the West Midlands.

Grab Lunch

You’ve surely worked up an appetite after an active morning of exploring Shakespeare’s old haunts! Luckily there are plenty of great dining spots in town, whether you’re craving traditional English pub fare or a riverside picnic.

If the weather’s nice, I recommend grabbing a tasty sandwich, locally-made savory pastries, and a drink from one of the bakeries in town.

We can then head over to the grassy banks of the River Avon to dine al fresco with picturesque views of the water and Clopton Bridge.

Alternatively, The Old Thatch Tavern is a cozy pick for classic pub grub like Toad in the Hole or Shepherd’s Pie.

Afternoon

Take a Shakespeare Sightseeing Tour

To dive deeper into Shakespeare’s life and links to Stratford-upon-Avon, join an afternoon sightseeing tour.

Some options include:

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Walking Tour – Expert-guided walk around Shakespeare-related sites.

Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour – Flexible bus tour with commentary, can hop on/off at various attractions.

Falstaff’s Experience – Fun, interactive experience at the medieval-style townhouse.

Stratford Town Walk – Costumed Shakespearean-era tour with storytelling.

Be sure to stop by Shakespeare’s Classroom, a 15th-century timber-framed building managed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust where it’s believed young William was taught Latin and Greek.

Graffiti carved into the desks offers a fascinating glimpse into Tudor school days!

If you are taking one of the many memorable day trips from London to Stratford-upon-Avon, you’ll want to make the most of your limited time by booking one of the above tours.

Visit Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

No trip to Stratford-upon-Avon is complete without visiting the childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife Anne Hathaway.

The thatched-roof Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is an idyllic 500-year-old farmhouse surrounded by gardens in the hamlet of Shottery, just over 1 mile from the town centre.

Wander through the quaint cottage to see artifacts belonging to the Hathaway family and furnishings reflecting rural life in Elizabethan England.

Then stroll through the cottage’s scenic gardens bursting with flowers and trees.

There are also woodland walks and orchards to explore on the grounds.

Shop and Snack on Henley Street

After soaking up the history, head back into central Stratford-upon-Avon for some retail therapy and snacks. Historic Henley Street is filled with shops selling everything from Shakespeare souvenirs to upscale homewares, clothing, jewelry and art.

Stop at The Fourteas tearoom for freshly baked sweet and savoury treats, from fruit scones and chocolate brownies to little sandwiches and quiches.

Or visit the Stratford Butterfly Farm which has an on-site tropical tea room surrounded by free-flying butterflies – a fun experience for all ages!

Take in a Play or Show

After a day immersed in the world of Shakespeare, what better way to end it than by seeing one of his iconic plays performed right in his hometown?

The Royal Shakespeare Company puts on amazing theatrical productions at their Theatre Royal right in the heart of town.

Watching Prospero conjure magic in The Tempest or star-crossed lovers collide in Romeo and Juliet is always memorable, but it feels truly special here in Stratford-upon-Avon.

If you’re visiting in summer, watching a Shakespeare performance outdoors on the lawn at the Waterside Theatre along the riverfront is an incredible experience. Just bring a blanket!

Alternatively, head to the haunted-house-style Tudor World attraction for an immersive evening of Shakespearean theatre, music and storytelling. It’s a unique way to experience the Bard’s work come alive.

Relax at an Old English Pub

As the day winds down, head to one of Stratford-upon-Avon's many historic English pubs. Sip a pint of locally brewed ale or cider in a setting Shakespeare himself would recognize.

The low-beamed The Garrick Inn, The Old Thatch Tavern and The Windmill Inn all ooze character and charm. For live music, head to The Keys and Kitchen or The Black Swan.

Relax after a busy day wandering in Shakespeare's footsteps, before heading to your accommodation in Stratford-upon-Avon or onwards to your next destination.

Stratford-upon-Avon 1 Day Itinerary Summary

Here’s a quick look at the best things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1 day:

• Morning: Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Holy Trinity Church, Nash’s House, Riverside stroll.

• Lunch: Picnic by the river or pub meal.

• Afternoon: Sightseeing tour, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shops & snacks on
Henley Street.

• Evening: Shakespeare play or show, Relax at a historic pub.

Travel tips for Stratford-upon-Avon:

• Purchase tickets for Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shakespeare’s Birthplace and any shows you plan to see online in advance – this allows you to skip ticket lines.

• Visit during the week instead of weekends to avoid the largest crowds. Shoulder season (Spring & Fall) also tend to be less busy than summer.

• Stop by the Stratford-upon-Avon tourist information centre to pick up maps and get advice from local experts.

• Wear comfortable walking shoes as you'll be on your feet most of the day exploring the town sights.

• Pack an umbrella or rain jacket – English weather is notoriously changeable!

Final Thoughts

This itinerary shows you the main Shakespeare sites and provides a good taste of Stratford-upon-Avon’s history, architecture, natural beauty and arts scene. With so many attractions packed into one day, be sure to get an early start and allow flexibility in your schedule.

Some other spots you may want to visit if you have extra time include Mary Arden’s Farm (Shakespeare’s mother’s childhood home), Stratford Butterfly Farm, the MAD Museum (mechanical art & design), Falstaff’s Experience and Holy Trinity Church’s Tower View.

With its charming riverside setting and abundance of Shakespeare connections, Stratford-upon-Avon makes for an unforgettable day out from London.

Follow this 1-day itinerary to experience the best of this historic town that was so influential in the life of England’s most famous dramatist.

Stratford-upon-Avon FAQs:

How do I get to Stratford-upon-Avon?

Trains from London Marylebone station take around 2 hours. Alternatively, National
Express coaches run direct from London Victoria Coach Station in 2.5 hours.

Where should I stay in Stratford-upon-Avon?

The town centre offers quaint B&Bs and hotels near the attractions. Alternatively, stay in
a nearby village like Shottery for a quieter experience.

What is there to do in Stratford-upon-Avon in one day?

Top sights include Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Holy Trinity
Church, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and riverfront walks.

How much does it cost to visit Anne Hathaway’s cottage?

Adult admission is currently £13.50. Book tickets online in advance to save time waiting
in line.

Is Stratford-upon-Avon walkable?

Yes, the main sights in central Stratford are walkable. Wear comfortable shoes as some
streets are cobbled.

What is the best time of year to visit Stratford-upon-Avon?

Spring and fall have pleasant weather without summer crowds. Summer brings more
attractions but busier streets.

What can you do for free in Stratford-upon-Avon?

Stroll along the river, people watch in Bancroft Gardens, explore Henley Street, or visit
Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare is buried.

 

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